Sunday, July 29, 2012

BC2012: Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster

Here are a few reasons I love Jen Lancaster's books:
  • She lives in Chicago. I am so freaking sick of New York City memoirs. Plus I get excited when I recognize a place she mentions.
  • She doesn't have or want kids. I'm also sick of memoirs that end with pregnancy or childbirth, as if that's the only way to find happiness or meaning in life. I still haven't forgiven Jancee Dunn for switching sides from anti-baby (or at least ambivalent-baby) to pro-baby mid-memoir.
  • She has a few pets and discusses them reasonably. She doesn't obsess about them or anthropomorphize them.
  • She's around my age (almost exactly my wife's age), so I can identify with her experiences and pop culture references. I can also identify with her career arc, at least until she bounced back upward as a writer (I never bounced, although I rolled a little).
  • She has weight issues, and Lord knows (as does anyone else who can't ignore my bulging belly) I can relate to that.
  • She's really funny.
But at the same time, I realize it's classified as chick lit so I'm uncomfortable reading her work in public places, especially where someone might ask why I'm laughing so hard.

Confession: I took two books to the restaurant on the corner yesterday. When I saw one of my male friends was working, I left Bright Lights, Big Ass in my bag* and started on the other book instead. Sure enough, he stopped by my table later to see what I was reading. Fortunately I didn't have to show him this book with the pretty cursive script and the shiny handbag on the cover. Phew!

I took a great leap of faith with Lancaster. I bought her first three books, including Bright Lights, Big Ass, all at the same time when Borders in Wilmette was closing.** Luckily, I enjoyed Bitch is the New Black for most of the reasons listed above so it all worked out.

* Please don't call it a murse; I just carry my book(s) in a small plastic shopping bag in case it rains. And my cell phone because I don't like carrying it in my pocket. But that's all. It's not a murse. I swear.

** That store closed in round 1A of the closings, when Borders closed a few dozen stores just as the first round was finishing up. The Wilmette store burned its awesomeness into my memory by playing Chuck Prophet's fantastic Let Freedom Ring CD on the very last day I shopped there (just a few days before they closed forever).

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